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Excess entry, ambiguity seeking and competence: An experimental investigation

Excess entry refers to the high failure rate of new entrepreneurial ventures. Economic explanations suggest 'hit and run' entrants and risk-seeking behavior. A psychological explanation is that people (entrepreneurs) are overconfident in their abilities (Camerer & Lovallo, 1999). Characterizing entry decisions as ambiguous gambles, we alternatively suggest–following Heath and Tversky (1991)–that people seek ambiguity when the source of uncertainty is related to their competence. Overconfidence, as such, plays no role. This hypothesis is confirmed in an experimental study that also documents the phenomenon of reference group neglect. Finally, we emphasize the utility that people gain from engaging in activities that contribute to a sense of competence. This is an important force in economic activity that deserves more explicit attention.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 778.

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Date of creation: Oct 2004
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:778
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.econ.upf.edu/

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  1. Wulf Albers & Robin Pope & Reinhard Selten & Bodo Vogt, 1999. "Experimental Evidence for Attractions to Chance," Discussion Paper Serie B 461, University of Bonn, Germany.
  2. Timothy F. Bresnahan & Peter C. Reiss, 1987. "Do Entry Conditions Vary across Markets?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 18(3), pages 833-882.
  3. Antonio Bernardo & Ivo Welch, 2001. "On the Evolution of Overconfidence and Entrepreneurs," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm211, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Nov 2003.
  4. Einhorn, Hillel J & Hogarth, Robin M, 1986. "Decision Making under Ambiguity," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S225-50, October.
  5. Dan Lovallo & Colin Camerer, 1999. "Overconfidence and Excess Entry: An Experimental Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(1), pages 306-318, March.
  6. Camerer, Colin & Weber, Martin, 1992. " Recent Developments in Modeling Preferences: Uncertainty and Ambiguity," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 5(4), pages 325-70, October.
  7. Highfield, Richard & Smiley, Robert, 1987. "New business starts and economic activity : An empirical investigation," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 51-66, March.
  8. Geroski, P. A., 1995. "What do we know about entry?," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 421-440, December.
  9. Malerba, Franco & Orsenigo, Luigi, 1996. "The Dynamics and Evolution of Industries," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 51-87.
  10. Richard H. Thaler & Eric J. Johnson, 1990. "Gambling with the House Money and Trying to Break Even: The Effects of Prior Outcomes on Risky Choice," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 36(6), pages 643-660, June.
  11. Heath, Chip & Tversky, Amos, 1991. " Preference and Belief: Ambiguity and Competence in Choice under Uncertainty," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 5-28, January.
  12. Dennis, William Jr., 1997. "More than you think: An inclusive estimate of business entries," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 175-196, May.
  13. Acs, Zoltan J & Audretsch, David B, 1989. "Small-Firm Entry in U.S. Manufacturing," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(222), pages 255-65, May.
  14. Cooper, Arnold C. & Woo, Carolyn Y. & Dunkelberg, William C., 1988. "Entrepreneurs' perceived chances for success," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 97-108.
  15. Jianakoplos, Nancy Ammon & Bernasek, Alexandra, 1998. "Are Women More Risk Averse?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 36(4), pages 620-30, October.
  16. Hogarth, Robin M & Kunreuther, Howard, 1989. " Risk, Ambiguity, and Insurance," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 2(1), pages 5-35, April.
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